Expand your horizons at Manchester University – Fotini Kristuli
“I am more independent, stronger and more confident in myself. Manchester has taught me how to become the best version of myself.”
Manchester University is a liberal arts school located the state of Indiana in the United States. The nationally recognized university is known as one of the best in the midwest United States and has been highly ranked by U.S News & World Report and also The Princeton Review.
SchoolAppy interviewed Fotini Kristuli, an international student from Albania, about her experiences so far at Manchester University.
Location: North Manchester, Indiana (US)
Student Name: Fotini Kristuli
From: Tirana, Albania
Graduation: May 2020
Favorite class: My favorite class was macroeconomics. It was not about the subject as much as it was for my professor, Sreenath Majumder. He was a fun teacher and was an international student once himself, so he understood me the most out of all my teachers. He was helpful as well as a good listener.
Favorite school event: The International Fair. All the international students gather together and cook traditional food from their home country as well as prepare different performances for the guests. This year there were 15 countries represented from our international students, such as Kurdistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Liberia, Mexico, Vietnam, and more!
Four words to describe Manchester University: Friendly, Engaging, Accepting, Challenging
Tell us a little about yourself…
I was born in Khalkidhiki, Greece. My parents left Albania due to the communist political system and I lived in Greece until I was three years old. My family later decided to move back to Albania and I spent 15 great years in Tirana, the capital city of Albania. At the age of 18, I came to study in the US and I have lived here now for two years.
What were your school experiences like before university?
Everyone says that high school is the best time of your life and it definitely was so for me. I went to “Qemal Stafa” high school – a huge high school and one of the strict ones. Even though we were not allowed to do so many things, my friends and I still made the best out of our time there. I have so many memories that I am so grateful for because they made me who I am today. I learned how to be responsible, how to forgive, how to be positive and always energetic.
How did you hear about Manchester University and what made you decide to study in the US?
I decided to come to the US for my higher education because the academic system is very strong, I would even say it is the best in the world. I visited a lot of universities around Europe but I could not imagine myself going anywhere else except Manchester.
I heard about Manchester from my cousin because she was a student here in 1999. She loved it and she thought I would have a good time at Manchester University, so I trusted her. Manchester University was the only university I applied to in the United States and I was lucky to be accepted.
Did you have any problems adjusting to life in a new country and university?
I am so happy that adjusting to a new continent, new culture and foreign language was not that hard for me. At Manchester, international students arrive two weeks prior to the start of school for International Orientation Week. I missed this week and therefore, missed out on some helpful information, which made things a little difficult for me in the beginning. I was not familiar with the area, other students, professors, campus and the tiny town. Coming from a big city, I expected things to be a little different but I am always open to new challenges and I adjusted here within a month! The friends I made, my advisor and the faculty members made it easier for me by guiding and supporting me throughout my time here.
What were your first few days in Manchester University like?
The community here is great. I have met so many people that are willing to spend time with me and talk to me about my experience or share a meal. Manchester Church of Brethren is where I met the most amazing and helpful people. I will always be grateful to them for showing me around, taking me canoeing, and for not making me feel far away from home.
When I first arrived, I had a lot of mixed feelings about Manchester University. On my way from the airport to campus, I freaked out because all I could see were cornfields… A LOT of cornfields. Later when we arrived on campus, I fell in love with it. Manchester University is so beautiful that all I thought I was, “Wow, this place is just like in the movies.”
Before my first class, I was nervous because I am from a country where people do not speak English, so I knew it would be hard for me to follow everything the professor would say. I remember my first class was Foundation of Business and during this class I began to question my ability to speak or understand English. I was so scared that I went to Professor Ogden and asked him what I should do and he gave me a dictionary. The dictionary helped, but what helped most was the thought that if I needed help I knew that somebody would be there for me.
What degree are you pursuing and why?
I am pursuing a BS degree in Accounting and Business Management. I was raised in a business environment because my father runs a company, and I was always interested in the field. I am familiar with doing business and running a company as my father would always take me to business meetings with him.
Have you had a job while studying?
Yes, I work as a Multicultural Affairs Programmer. I work with international and multicultural students to create diversity-related programs and events so that everyone feels like they are an important part of this campus. Through this job, I have learned how to be a good listener and how to solve problems without hurting anybody’s feelings.
I am also working as a Student Orientation Leader taking care of all the first-year students. I show them how things are done on campus, give them advice, and make sure that they feel safe and welcomed at the university.
Are you taking part in any extracurricular activities?
I have been a part of a lot of extracurricular activities. I am the liaison/treasurer of the Black Student Union and also a member of the following clubs: Student Today, Alumni Tomorrow; Event Planning Committee - College of Business; African Student Association; and Manchester University International Association.
I decided to take part in these clubs and associations because I have always been interested in helping others, learning new things and meeting new people. Getting involved in clubs is also what helped me make friends at university.
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What has your academic and social experience been like as an international student at Manchester?
Manchester University is a small, beautiful campus in North Manchester, Indiana. There are plenty of things to do on campus and around town. Kennapoccamocha is my favorite coffee shop that I walk to and the Peace Garden is a small garden on campus – it is the most relaxing place! There is also an ice cream shop that is the perfect place to go during the spring or summer months. Another place I really enjoy spending time is the Peabody Aquatic Center. I love swimming, so I spend most of my free time there.
I think that the knowledge I am gaining at Manchester supports my interest and talent perfectly because my classes and professors are teaching me all I need to know about how to be a good leader and a detail-oriented, organized businessperson. They are preparing me mentally and psychologically for the field in which I plan on building a career.
How has studying abroad changed you?
I have become more open-minded and accepting of others and their experiences. I am more independent, stronger and more confident in myself. Manchester has taught me how to become the best version of myself.
What do you like the most about the new culture you are experiencing?
I like the numerous opportunities offered here, as well as the freedom of expression.
What are your plans after you graduate? How has Manchester University prepared you for life after college?
I plan on having my own business probably back home. I love Albania so much and I want the best for my country, so I would like to share the knowledge I gained here and make things better for the next generation of Albanians.
Manchester has helped me prepare for my life after college through their amazing business and accounting program, the many internship opportunities, and the connections I have made with alumni, other students, faculty and staff. Once a Manchester student, always a Manchester student.
What would you say to international students who are considering studying at Manchester University?
I would say that if you want to focus on your academics, this is the place for you. You can get help at the university at any time from many people. I think that one of the strengths of the school is their open-door policy with professors – they are always around to help with any issues related to school. You don’t even need to set an appointment with them because they will welcome you anytime that you need.
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